Thirty-Sixth Day of Lent

Scripture: John 18: 1-11 

In light of being asked to share my reflections, my first thought when reading this passage was: “I have been there.”

I pulled out my travel journal and flipped through the pages until I found the entry in question. That day I rode a camel, and took that picture of the cross with the Dome of the Rock on the other side of the valley (you know the one, it’s some sort of mandatory tourist photo). Then, I headed down the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Eight gnarled, ancient olive trees stood in a fenced off “green space.” These trees are old enough that people believe they were actually there when Jesus prayed and was arrested. Due to this fact the trees have been protected from the public, who were stripping them bare of their branches and taking “tokens”. As I walked the perimeter of the Garden a woman begged one of the Franciscan monks inside the fence for an olive branch to heal her sick daughter. She desperately wanted that branch, and desperately believed it would bring healing.

Tokens, relics, liturgy and symbolism are not a huge part of my Evangelical Protestant life over here in North America. My life as a nurse is also kind of an “anti-healing olive branch” as I watch people come and go, get well and pass away all outside the realm of my understanding. I feel like I can relate to Simon Peter when he cut off the servant's ear. He did not understand what was happening or why, and so he fought back; sometimes I fight and cry and pray and bargain for a patient to live, and I would chop off  someone’s ear to take control and stop what I don’t understand from taking place. In fact, if my life was mapped out “footprints in the sand” style there would probably also be ears randomly strewn across the path as I try to take control.

In the Garden, written on a stone is a quote which ends with, “In love and gratitude I want to say in times of fear and distress, ‘My Father, I do not understand You, but I trust You.’” This Lenten season I want to lay down my sword, stop chopping off ears, and trust. And I want to be open to healing olive branches.

Katie Swan
Holy Community Covenant Church
Winnipeg, MB